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Results are Clear: Costs of UK Lockdown Are Too High

More than any single variable in this COVID crisis threat matrix, the economic calamity is by far the biggest ticking bomb. And the collateral damage from this will not be confined to any sector or corner of society – the impact is indiscriminant.

In addition to hurting the livelihood and health of tens of millions of people, the economic factor poses the single greatest risk to any government’s future survival. That said, you’d think it would be in their best interest to apply an intelligent approach, rather than a top-down, one-size-fits-all shutdown.

The lesson should be clear: if the media and government try to spin-up a “Second Wave” mass-panic, people and businesses should remember the devastating costs of this first lockdown. Knowing what we know now in terms of the relatively marginal threat posed by COVID-19, will government repeat this same mistake again?

Author Larry Elliot from the UK Guardian writes…


The past three months have been a global experiment to test whether modern economies built on social interaction are compatible with methods for tackling a pandemic that haven’t moved on much since the Black Death.

The results are now in. Lockdowns are toxic for a world in which people travel to work on buses or commuter trains, spend eight hours with their colleagues at the office, spend their lunch hour doing a bit of shopping, and head off in the evening to the pub, the theatre or the football.

Britain imposed severe restrictions towards the end of March. By the end of April, according to initial estimates by the Office for National Statistics, the economy had shrunk by 25%. If anything, that will prove to be optimistic because of the difficulty in getting data from companies forced to close.

Little by little, restrictions are being lifted but life is not going to return to normal while face masks are obligatory on public transport, diners have to stay two metres, or even a metre apart in restaurants and customers are discouraged to browse in shops.

(…) The number of new cases has been on a downward trend for weeks as a result of the severest curbs on the UK population ever imposed in peacetime and the arrival of warmer weather, but what happens in the autumn when restrictions have been further eased and the temperature starts to drop? If the trend is reversed, does the government lock down the economy a second time?

The answer is almost certainly not, even though the possibility spooked financial markets last week. Share prices crashed in the early stages of the crisis because investors grasped that measures taken to control the pandemic would result in much weaker corporate profits. Markets subsequently rallied fast because the tentative easing of lockdown restrictions raised hopes of a V-shaped recession. They then had second thoughts after an increase in new Covid-19 cases in a number of US states, mainly in the south. The city of Houston in Texas is mulling the possibility of again ordering people to stay in their homes. A partial shutdown has been imposed in Beijing after the city reported its first cases of Covid-19 in almost two months.

This is likely to be the template for the months ahead: a targeted, localised approach rather than a blanket ban on activity. Political leaders are going to be wary of reimposing full lockdowns, and they are right to be.

For a start, it has become clear that there is no such thing as “the science” when it comes to Covid-19. Immunologists have different views about infection rates and possible mortality outcomes in the same way that monetarists and Keynesians differ over economics…

Continue this story at The Guardian

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